The assumption that most people have to enter a divorce in Texas is that their case will inevitably wind up going before a family court judge. I think that this is the case because movies and television always showcase divorce scenarios winding up in court. This is understandable from an entertainment perspective, but the reality of the situation is different. What we typically think of when it comes to divorce is a packed courtroom with yelling coming from lawyers and a judge banging their gavel across the bench. Reality does not match up with Hollywood (imagine that!). 

While many people believe that trips to the courthouse are the norm for divorce cases I would like to Help shift that discussion to one that is based more on what you are likely to encounter in your divorce. It doesn’t do you a lot of good to prepare for a divorce experience that will probably not relate to anything that you could go through in your divorce. Let’s talk some about how issues in your divorce can be solved through negotiation. 

Go into the case with a positive attitude

It is undoubtedly difficult to go into a divorce with a positive attitude. Your marriage is coming to an end and with it many of the certainties that you have had in your daily life for years. Even if you were not incredibly happy in your marriage it is still likely that there was some stability within the context of being married. Now that this stability is coming to an end you are likely to experience some problems adjusting to life both in divorce and as a single person. We know from experience that the best thing a person can do Is to adjust their mindset for whatever adversities may come their way.

What I was referencing earlier as far as the perception that divorce is most likely will end up in a courtroom can happen. There’s a reason why courthouses exist, and judges are paid to come to the office every day. With that said, the reason why people oftentimes end up in court is that they give up on the prospect of negotiating with their spouse. Sometimes these people assume that there is no chance for there to be any degree of success in negotiations for several reasons. Not the least of which is that they would not be going through the divorce if they could work out solutions to the problems that are plaguing their family.

there is something about being able to start a divorce on a positive note that can do wonders for your mental well-being. A divorce is like any other difficult life event. The attitude you have as you begin the process can make a tremendous difference in the outcome for you and your family. If you go into a divorce with an attitude of negativity then that is probably A good indication that your case is going to wind up in the courtroom This does not have to be the case, but bear in mind that it is possible to negotiate through the issues of your case if you can provide information to your attorney that can help him or her guide you throughout the process.

Just because your spouse and you are going through a divorce does not mean that you will not be able to negotiate with him or her effectively. On the contrary, many people begin to discover that the divorce offers them a unique opportunity to solve several issues for their family that they were unable to do so during their divorce. For example, you and your co-parent may have had issues with being able to divide up parenting responsibilities between yourselves concerning your children during your marriage. The divorce presents both of you with a chance to address those subjects and work with one another on getting them right. Possession, custody, visitation and a host of other subjects are all very important parts of a divorce in Texas.

You may even be able to get a jumpstart on the negotiation process with your co-parent before you even start your divorce case. For instance, another thing that I have counseled clients on before is that it can be a great advantage to negotiate on the terms of your divorce before the case even begins. This way, you can begin to identify what the issues are that you and your spouse largely agree on and which ones the two of you have some work to do as far as negotiation is concerned. 

Think about this like you would an assignment that you had in school. If you begin working on the assignment sooner rather than later then you will likely not have to devote an inordinate amount of time to subjects that you could have and working through earlier in your case. Do not underestimate the importance of being able to engage in meaningful discussion with your co-parent before a divorce. Many of the most successful divorce cases that I have been fortunate enough to work on with people began before the client even hired the Law Office of Bryan Fagan. Take it upon yourself to seek out your spouse and engage in discussion with him or her to even file for divorce. 

Finally, a positive attitude in your divorce case can only realistically get you so far. The way that you treat your spouse in the divorce can determine how he or she treats you back. Starting the case off with a spirited negotiation rather than an expectation that need to litigate your case puts you on solid footing with one another and can make a tremendous difference in how your case proceeds. With that said, there are many other ways that you can greatly increase the likelihood have your case being settled through negotiation rather than determined by a family court judge. Sometimes these factors play too certain divorces more often than others. However, I think there is merit to each of these items for your consideration.

Selecting the right attorney

When it comes to this confirms mention saves about divorce, we have already spoken about how many people perceive divorce cases to belong journeys to the courtroom. Another misconception that I would like to clear up about divorce cases is that hiring an attorney only makes the case more contentious and more likely to end in litigation. The reputation of attorneys is that our main motivation is to make money or two put ourselves first period however, this could not be further from the truth. Attorneys have a great deal of motivation to see to it that your case is settled sooner rather than later period this is because in most cases your attorney has many clients we expect to be able to receive help from him or her period the less work that needs to be done in your case means he or she can devote more time and attention to those cases that do need greater support.

Many attorneys are extremely skilled at negotiation on an informal basis. Phone calls and emails over time can add up to make a tremendous difference in your case when it comes to the negotiation process. Do not underestimate the role that keeping a line of communication open with your spouse can produce for you and your family. I have seen cases where spouses were not even talking to one another at the beginning and all it took to open the lines of communication or a few phone calls or emails between attorneys. With that said, what are some steps that your attorney can work with you on to help further your goals of reducing the risk of a case where going to court becomes a foregone conclusion.

There are a couple of different conversations that I have with clients at the beginning of a case which seemed to make a big difference. First, I asked them to help me define goals for the case. Your goals for a divorce may be completely different than another person whose circumstances look to be like yours. All of us are different and that means that all our goals in a divorce would be different as well. Only you know your specific circumstances as they pertain to your family, your children, and your post of horse life. Your attorney may know what your goals are for your case but until you have an actual conversation with him or her about putting those goals in writing and working out a plan to achieve them then you have not truly engaged in a goal-setting session. Make sure that your attorney is aware of your specific goals and how important each goal is. Sometimes in a divorce, you must move certain goals to the side to accomplish goals that are more important to you. 

For example, you may have a goal in your divorce to retain as much retirement savings as possible while also splitting the possession time of your children with your spouse. While it may be possible to achieve both these goals exactly how you want them it is more likely that you will have to take a step back on one goal to further your goal in another regard. This goal-setting session could also be known as a gold balancing session. Learning how to balance the goals of your case while maximizing your opportunities to negotiate is an important step in the divorce process. Importantly, it is a step that can be taken at the very beginning of your case. Learning how your attorney thinks through the problems of your case can also help you to develop your critical thinking skills as it pertains to divorce. This is especially important if you have no experience with divorce.

Creating an inventory and appraisement of your property is required by just about every family court that I can think of. However, just because this is a requirement for most courts does not mean that you all should not engage in the activity with a certain degree of creativity. Why not work with your attorney and their staff to create an inventory of your property and debts while using that as a jumping-off point to begin figuring out how you would like your property division to occur in your divorce.

I like to think about the property division aspects of divorce as an opportunity to think about creative solutions to your divorce. When it comes to your home, your retirement savings, your bank accounts, one list of other property that you own the possibilities are endless as to how you and your spouse can divide up the community’s estate while ordering each other’s separate property. Think of the property division aspects of your case almost like having poker chips in the middle of the table. It is up to you and your spouse as to how those poker chips will be slid all over the table to come up with outcomes that work well for all parties involved. In the go shooting for more property with one area of her case to receive less in another area is something common. Again, the circumstances of your specific divorce will impact how you and your co-parent and spouse negotiate. You need to consider all the outcomes of your case both in matters related to your children and in property-related issues.

This is truly where I think negotiation presents better outcomes than trial. When it comes to a trial, you and your spouse are both relying upon a family court judge to make decisions in your case for you. The options are limited to what your judge is thinking about immediately following a trial where he or she had to take in a great deal of information. On the other hand, negotiation allows you and your spouse to take in a lifetime’s worth of work together as partners as well as the advice of attorneys throughout your divorce case. Do not underestimate just how critical it is to the success of your case it can be to outline specific plans and follow through with them in the negotiation process.

Negotiation as it pertains to matters related to your children

Another place in a divorce case where negotiation is critically important is regarding matters related to your children. If you ask any parents going through a divorce what their focus is going to be in the case invariably each parent will say their children. For that reason, you will be able to consider the vast reserve of knowledge you have regarding your children as well as the creative solution making of you, your attorney, and your spouse to arrive at outcomes that benefit the kids primarily. Remember that the best interests of your children should be at the core of every decision that you make. 

With that said, I like to think about negotiation for issues like child custody as being far superior to any kind of decision-making that a family court judge could put into place through their orders. For instance, I have worked with many families who have special circumstances regarding their children, but they want to see honored during a divorce case. You know everything there is to know about your children and it will be impossible to expect a family court judge to equal your level of knowledge even after a multiple-day trial. 

You need to ask yourself then: why would you trust a family court judge to make a better decision regarding your children than you and your spouse? Even if the two of you are not seeing eye to eye on much your shared experiences with your children will still position you all better to be able to make decisions for them. A family court judge is likely to air on the side of caution and issue conservative custody orders. However, while these types of orders may work decently well for many families they likely would not work as well for your family. This is especially true if your child has special needs or circumstances that need to be addressed. 

One thing I will say regarding the negotiations on child custody is that these types of negotiations can become emotional period if you know ahead of time that you are the type of person to become overly emotional about matters related to your children then you ought to consider allowing your attorney to take the lead on negotiating with these subjects. That way you can still accomplish what you need to but you can use your attorney as a more objective intermediary to conduct negotiations on an emotional subject.

Questions about the material contained in today’s blog post? Contact the Law Office of Bryan Fagan

If you have any questions about the material contained in today’s blog post, please do not hesitate to contact the Law Office of Bryan Fagan. Our licensed family law attorneys offer free of charge consultations six days a week in person, over the phone, and via video. These consultations are a great way for you to learn more about the world of Texas family law as well as about how your family circumstances may be impacted by the filing of a divorce or child custody case.